2013-2014: The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive.

book cover
"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.

In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.

-Hachette Book Group

Past Events

August 2013

  • Read The Yellow Birds!

September 2013

  • September 12, 6pm - 7pm, Chico City Plaza: Book in Common Kick-off Event

 October 2013

  • October 5, 9:30am - 11:30am, Colusa Hall: A showing of the documentary "High Ground" detailing 11 Iraqi and Afghan Veterans overcoming obstacles and climbing one of the largest mountains in the world. Tickets are $10. This event is sponsored by Chico State's Veteran Student Organization and the Focus Film Festival. For more information visit the Focus Film Festival website.
  • October 21, 2pm - 3pm, Chico New Thought Center (14 Hillary Lane, Chico): The Osher Lifelong learning Institute, OLLI, is offering a class discussing “The Yellow Birds” this fall. The purpose of this course, led by Brooks Thorlaksson, is to share ideas, questions, and experiences, as well as take part in community wide events that explore the topics presented in The Yellow Birds. For more information please see this link or contact the instructor.
  • October 22, 4pm - 5pm, Ayers Hall 120: Join us for an open discussion with Veterans regarding their experiences overseas. This even is sponsored by the International Forum.
  • October 23, 3pm - 5pm, PAC 134: Chico State's nursing Department will host an informational panel followed by a discussion regarding Veteran re-integration concerns and challenges. The discussion will focus on best practices for reintegration and general awareness of the issues facing veterans.
  • October 28, 2pm - 3pm, Chico New Thought Center (14 Hillary Lane, Chico): The Osher Lifelong learning Institute, OLLI, is offering a class discussing “The Yellow Birds” this fall. The purpose of this course, led by Brooks Thorlaksson, is to share ideas, questions, and experiences, as well as take part in community wide events that explore the topics presented in The Yellow Birds. For more information please see this link or contact the instructor.

November 2013

  • November 4, 2pm - 3pm, Chico New Thought Center (14 Hillary Lane, Chico): The Osher Lifelong learning Institute, OLLI, is offering a class discussing “The Yellow Birds” this fall. The purpose of this course, led by Brooks Thorlaksson, is to share ideas, questions, and experiences, as well as take part in community wide events that explore the topics presented in The Yellow Birds. For more information please see this link or contact the instructor.
  • November 6, 7pm - 9 pm, PAC 134: The public is invited to a panel discussion regarding the themes presented in "The Yellow Birds". The context of the discussion will be to compare and contrast the book in common to past literary fictional novels regarding both the combat experience and the return back to society. The larger reaction to how societies respond to war, conflict, and those who serve will also be addressed through both a historical perspective and modern day setting.

February 2014

  • February 27, 6:30pm - 8pm, Ayers 106: Iraq: 11 years later. A retrospective and examination on the war, its' costs and the aftermath. A discussion will follow a brief lecture on the events leading up to the invasion and the years since. The reverberations of the conflict will continue for many years to come and range from shattered Veterans, destroyed communities in Iraq and a general upheaval felt throughout the entire Middle East. Everyone is welcome to attend and be heard regarding their perspective and emotions. While reading this year's book in common, "The Yellow Birds" is not required it is suggested to understand the personal costs paid by US servicemen in answering the call we, as an American public, made.

March 2014

  • March 25, 7pm - 10pm, PAC 134: "The Yellow Birds" in historical perspective. Please join us for a panel discussion on the use of novels to describe the experiences of war. Is the genre timeless or are their unique insights into each time period and generation? How do these novels influence debate about war and what can we learn about ourselves and our society by reading and understanding these works of fiction. What value should we place on them and where do they stand in academia? Everyone is welcome to attend.

April 2014

  • April 1, 7:30pm - 10pm, PAC 134: Join us for a reading of powerful poetry followed by a discussion with the author of "Here, Bullet" and "Phantom Noise". Brian Turner. Brian Turner is a soldier-poet who is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise (2010) and Here, Bullet (2005), which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times Editor's Choice selection, the 2006 Pen Center USA "Best in the West" award, and the 2007 Poets Prize, among others. He also has a memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country (2014) that retraces his war experience. Turner served seven years in the US Army, to include one year as an infantry teamleader in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to that, he was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division. Turner's poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, and other journals, and in the Voices in Wartime Anthology published in conjunction with the feature-length documentary film of the same name. Turner was also featured in Operation Homecoming, a unique documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. He earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and has lived abroad in South Korea. In 2009, Turner was selected as one of fifty United States Artists Fellows.

May 2014

  • May 4, 10am - 4pm, 215 Broadway, Chico: During the month of May 2014, the Museum of Northern California Art (monca) will offer the public an exhibition of works by living veterans depicting their war experience while on active duty or reflecting its impact on them when stateside. Please ask veterans you know if they have any art they would like to submit to this exhibition. The application form and art submission deadline is on May 4th. For more information please visit the following website.
  • May 9th, 11:30 am-1:30 pm, Student Services Center Plaza: Book in Common Closing Event "Turning the Page." The Dean of Undergraduate Education and the First-Year Experience program invite all students and community members to take part in this year’s Book in Common “Turning the Page” event featuring the 2013-2014 Book in Common, The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. Come engage in small table discussions, read poetry written by war veteran Brian Turner, and become more engaged in political and international issues relating to war. The event is free, and everyone is encouraged to attend. Cupcakes will be provided. Come join the campus and community at the Student Services Center Plaza located next to the BMU Market Place.

 The Yellow Birds Community Partners

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